Taisia Vielhaber, who will enter the Church at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle this Easter, had someone in her family to lead the way: her four-month-old daughter, Anastacia, who was baptized in that same church just two months previously.

Vielhaber, who is originally from Russia, said becoming a mother has brought her closer to God.

“I think she has strengthened my faith,” she said about her daughter. “I feel like I pray more now than ever before…because I am not just praying for myself anymore, I am praying for her.”

Vielhaber was born in the Soviet Union, and her own family was not religious. The closest connection she had to religion growing up was her great grandmother, who was Russian Orthodox. Her husband is from Germany and comes from a Catholic family, and Vielhaber said experiencing his family’s Christmas and Easter traditions is a big part of what drew her to the Church.

In their small German town, everybody gathers together in the town square to listen to a choir that sings on a bell tower, and then they all go home to be with family and eat fondue. She said those types of traditions “bring the family together” and “we want to do the same for our family.”

Vielhaber moved to the United States in 2011 for her job as a mechanical engineer for Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company. She originally lived in Louisiana, where she made friends who are Catholic and invited her to church with them. That was the first time that she went to Mass, which she said felt different than the occasional Russian Orthodox services she had attended as a child.

“It is more like a family here. Everyone is just so nice,” she said. “It feels good to have support.”

She has continued to feel that support at her new parish home of St. Matthew’s. Though she and her husband are both far away from their families, Vielhaber said the community at St. Matthew’s has started to feel like their family in Washington, D.C.

“It is nice; since we don’t have family here, I feel like RCIA is [like that],” she said. “It is nice to feel like they care.”

Vielhaber and her husband, David, bring Anastacia to Mass with them, and the RCIA community has watched her grow since she was born on Nov. 12. Because everyone has gotten to know her so well, Vielhaber feels that “she’s a baby everyone prays for.”

Deciding to become Catholic initially had a lot to do with wanting to set a good example for her daughter as she grew up, she said.

“I feel like I had to do it because of her,” said Vielhaber.

During the RCIA process, Vielhaber has appreciated the opportunity to study the Bible alongside other people, because she found it difficult to jump into reading it on her own.

“The discussion helps to understand it better,” she said, noting that they learn about the history and context behind the readings when they talk about it during RCIA.

Likewise, she said RCIA gives her the tools she needs to pray.

“When you are just starting, you don’t know how to pray,” she said. “I didn’t know what the rosary was.”

Now, she sometimes prays the rosary with Anastacia, who will be in the crowd with her dad as her mom is baptized at the Easter Vigil.

“I’m looking forward to joining our church community this Easter vigil and worshiping together with my family,” said Vielhaber.